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The Biz Roundup June 29

Bernie Madoff mug shot

“Be seeing you.”

150 years.

Bernard Madoff, the self-confessed author of the biggest financial swindle in history, was sentenced to the maximum 150 years behind bars for what his judge called an “extraordinarily evil” fraud that shook the nation’s faith in its financial and legal systems and took “a staggering toll” on rich and poor alike.

(“‘Evil’ Madoff Gets 150 Years in Epic Fraud,” Wall Street Journal, June 29) The official figure for the net losses suffered by all Madoff’s victims is $13 billion, meaning most of the money that Madoff stole went to other investors to keep the Ponzi scheme steaming ahead full. If you do the math, then Madoff is doing one year of jail time for every $87 million that he stole from people, which comes to one day prison sentence for every $237,000 he stole. One day of prison for stealing a quarter million dollars. Of course, he’ll get time off for good behavior if by “behavior” you mean cardiac arrest.

Maybe a few state legislators and governors need 150 year prison terms, too.

Indiana is one of five states — along with Arizona, California, Mississippi and Pennsylvania — bracing for possible shutdowns this week as time runs out for lawmakers to close billion-dollar gaps in their fiscal 2010 budgets.

Of the 46 states whose fiscal year ends today, 32 did not have budgets passed and approved by their governors as of Monday afternoon, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. . . .

In California, state finance officials will begin issuing IOUs on Thursday if lawmakers and the governor cannot agree on a way to close a $24-billion shortfall. The IOUs would go to local governments, vendors, taxpayers and college students receiving state financial aid. California has issued such IOUs only one other time — in 1992 — since the Great Depression.

(“States brace for shutdowns,” Los Angeles Times, June 29) I have never seen such irresponsibility on the part of elected officials in all my years of watching and shaking my head at the excesses of government. The recession isn’t the problem. The standoff between the state legislature and the governor of California is simply shameful. The governor is threatening a veto because the new budget, even though it closes the deficit, does so only “piecemeal.” Well, sometimes piecemeal and in business is better than systematic and out of business.

Help wanted: CEO for Fortune 500 computer company. Telecommuting O.K.

Jobs, 54, is still in recovery after a liver transplant in Memphis. Apple representatives said he will split his time between work and home for now.

“He’s currently at Apple a few days a week and working from home the remaining days,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling. “We are very glad to have him back.”

(“Jobs back at Apple after 5 1/2-month leave,” San Francisco Chronicle, June 29) Here’s the real news they’re not telling us: how well Apple did without Steve Jobs at the helm for the last five months. The iPhone 3Gs hit the market and sold a whopping 1 million units in the first weekend; new versions of the MacBook appeared; and the stock has risen 67% all the while Jobs was cutting to the front of the liver line. That, in my anything-but-humble opinion, is the big story today. And the Chronicle is the only paper that reported this incredibly important, game-changing (in my opinion) news.

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